On Saturday 24th July 2010 the scale model (1:50) of the powerful self-propelled ocean going rock cutter dredger ‘D’Artagnan’ was formally handed over by DEME’s C.E.O. Alain Bernard to the Panama Canal Authrorities (ACP) during a ceremony in the Miraflores Locks Visitor Centre. The scale model will be permanently exhibited in the most interesting official Visitor Centre exhibition, that is open to the general public on daily basis in the Miraflores Locks building, which is located at the Pacific Entrance side of the Panama Canal.
With a total installed power of 28,000 kW, the ‘D’Artagnan’ is one of the most powerful ocean-going rock cutter suction dredgers in the world. The vessel was commissioned to DEME in the last quarter of 2005 and has been employed since on numerous complex projects requiring dredging of hard material throughout the world. The ‘D’Artagnan’ has also been one of the very strong assets enabling DEME company Dredging international to be awarded by ACP the contract for widening and deepening of the Panama Canal at the Pacific Entrance and recently as well the new contract for widening and deepening the Norther Reaches of the Gatun Lake Channel.
The Pacific Entrance widening and deepening contract was awarded to Dredging International in April 2008. A substantial part of these works has been executed so far amongst others by DEME’s self-propelled cutter dredger ‘Vlaanderen XIX’, trailing suction hopper dredger ‘Breydel’ and the rock drilling and blasting vessel ‘OO7’. The cutter dredger ‘D’Artagnan’ will start its activities on the Canal later this year. Subsequently, the ‘D’Artagnan’ will remain active on the Panama Canal for widening and deepening the Northern Reaches of the Gatun Lake channel at the Atlantic side of the canal, requiring another 5 million m3 to be dredged and removed.
The Miraflores Lock complex, where the scale model of the ‘D’Artagnan’ will feature from now on in the Visitor Centre, owing to its close proximity to Panama City and easy public access, is probably the most visited tourist site in all of Panama. The permanent exhibition of the D’Artagnan in its Visitor Centre symbolizes the assistance of Belgian specialists and companies to the construction and the further development of the Panama Canal.
In his speech on the occasion of the handing over ceremony of the scale model of the ‘D’Artagnan’, DEME’s Chief Executive Officer Alain Bernard said: ‘In the Exhibition Room, we saw that Belgian designed dredgers took part in the building of the Panama Canal in the first decade of previous century. Nowadays, almost 100 years later, Nowadays, exactly 100 years later, much larger, state of the art dredges, operated by Dredging International, are operating in the Panama Canal , to realize ACP’s Widening and Deepening works to create the access to the Third Set of Locks.”
Mr. Bernard then invited ACP Administrator Mr. Alberto Aleman Zubieta to officially unveil the scale model of the ‘D’Artagnan’, applauded by representatives of the Autoridad del Canal de Panama and of the DEME Group.
The Belgian dredging and environmental group DEME includes a variety of companies whose roots go back to the mid 19th century. The group is specialised in capital and maintenance dredging; port construction, port extension and reclamation; servicing the oil & gas industry; wreck removal; deepsea marine operations; construction of offshore wind turbine farms; and a broad mix of environmental activities – from water treatment plants to silt recyclation and on-site treatment of soils that are polluted with heavy metals or contaminated sediments. DEME owns and operates a very modern and versatile fleet of 90 major dredgers as well as some 200 auxiliary vessels. The group employs a staff and crew of 3.700. DEME is operating worldwide – in 2009 assignments were carried out in no less than 42 countries on all continents. In the past decade DEME invested USD 2 billion in high-tech plant and equipment.